Category Archives: News at The Vineyard

Magical May Days

There’s something undeniably magical about the month of May. The days are already longer, the air warmer and the promise of summer is just on the horizon. It’s an invigorating time of year when we can start packing away our winter wardrobes and cosy nights in turn into memorable evenings out.

At The Vineyard, we’re all about coupling first class service with the finest food and wine to create special memories, whatever the occasion. There’s plenty of unique reasons to visit us, from our iconic 30,000 bottle wine cellar to our tranquil 5 Bubbles rated spa, but just in case you need a touch more inspiration, we’ve put together five ways we can make your May truly magical:

Relax and rejuvenate with our Spa and Afternoon Tea offer
Enjoy full use of our heavenly spa facilities from 10am – 3pm with tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival. We’ll provide you with fluffy robes, soft towels and slippers and keep you hydrated throughout your stay with complimentary bottled water. You’ll also benefit from an exclusive 15% discount on any treatment you have during your visit. Finish the day with a delicious afternoon tea, served in the elegant surroundings of our Cocktail or California Bar.

Priced at £68.00 per person, Monday-Fridays in May, excluding Bank Holidays
Call our spa to book on 01635 589415

Our popular Charming British Escape option is 25% off throughout May
Stay the night at our stunning, five red star country retreat where each room is designed to tell a story. This opulent break includes a three course dinner with menus inspired by the freshest seasonal ingredients and an indulgent breakfast the next morning. Our stylish, luxurious rooms feature a selection of REN products, personal Nespresso coffee machine and fluffy robes; just a few added touches for your enjoyment.

Priced at £236.25 per room, per night.
Book online or call our Reservations Team on 01635 528770

Californian Wine Festival
We’ve often called ourselves a temple to Californian wine and as the ‘little brother’ property to the Peter Michael Winery in California, it isn’t hard to see why! In tribute of our proud heritage, we hold a Californian Wine Festival each year, showcasing the very best wines from the Golden State. Taking place over two days, festival goers will have the opportunity to sample fine wines alongside a sensational five course menu on 11th May and then enjoy a prestigious wine tasting on 12th May. Here’s to your very good health!

Priced at £115 per person for Wine Festival Dinner on 11th May
Priced at £30.00 per person for Wine Festival Tasting on 12th May
Call our Reservations Team to book on 01635 528770

Discover the Judgement of Pairs
In 1976, something truly amazing happened that changed the world of wine forever. The finest wine aficionados of the day gathered together to participate in a blind tasting event in which, to their own amazement and chagrin, they unanimously favoured the Californian wine over the French. This was a major turning point because up until then, French wines had been widely regarded as far superior. The Judgment of Paris is so crucial to our history that we even have a floor to ceiling painting depicting it in our California Bar. You can recreate the experience for yourself with our ultimate dining experience – a seven course tasting menu with French and Californian wine paired with each course.

Judgement of Paris Tasting Menu – £89.00 per person
For the full experience, add paired wines for an extra £95.00 per person
Call our Reservations Team to book on 01635 528770

Book a private masterclass with our Head Barman
Whether you prefer a cocktail that’s been shaken or stirred or a classic gin and tonic, let us create a bespoke, private masterclass that’s sure to make a memorable evening. Our masterclasses will last for an hour with a maximum of 12 people – you’ll be an expert mixologist in no time.

Gin Masterclass – £25.00 per person
Cocktail Masterclass – £30.00 per person
Call our Reservations Team to book on 01635 528770

So if you’re looking for immaculate service in stunning surroundings, we have everything you need to make May memorable and magical. It might only be perfect, but it’ll have to do.

New Look for Cocktail Bar at The Vineyard

Cocktail bar at The VineyardUpdated by Liz Cleall Interiors, our cocktail bar at The Vineyard now has an elegant and sumptuous feel to it thanks to the luxury armchairs, lighting, tables, blinds and small sculptures all locally sourced from carefully selected suppliers. As well as the new furniture and soft furnishings, the bar has also been extended to accommodate our 100 wines available by the glass.

wallpaperAs we are all about wine here at The Vineyard, one of the luxurious wallpapers that now adorn the walls has a gold cork print, whilst the other has an elegant vinyl look. Both have been sourced from Altfield, a leading resource for beautiful textiles, wallcoverings and leather, distributing a number of high end lines from around the world.

The 1950’s floor lamp and mirror over the one of the sofas have been carefully chosenCocktail bar - lamp, mirror and sofa from Julian Chichester’s collection. Julian Chichester has established an enviable reputation for classically inspired, quality English furniture.

We are also proud to have two small glass sculptures made by well known local sculptor Johannes Von Stumm who is famous for combining three different materials; glass, granite and iron. He has attracted public and critical acclaim in a decade of successful exhibitions, both in the UK and abroad.

Our stylish scatter cushions on most of the cosy armchairs have been sourced from Wemyss who are dedicated to producing high quality fabrics with a wide selection of beautiful textures, patterns and colours. Most fabrics are 75% natural fibres to ensure a lovely handle.

Liz spent time searching for the perfect sofas for the cocktail bar and eventually found the smart shallow button back Manhattan sofas at Kingcome Sofas who have an excellent reputation for manufacturing the highest quality upholstered furniture in a wide range of designs from traditional to contemporary.

Events in Berkshire this FebruaryWe look forward to welcoming you to our newly refurnished cocktail bar soon to enjoy our range of unique cocktail and over 100 wines by the glass. The cocktail bar is also ideal for group wine tastings and cocktail making masterclasses. For more details on where Liz sourced the furniture and soft furnishings for the cocktail bar, please visit her website –

Photographs taken by

Inspiring Away Day

Guest Blog – Enham Trust

Managers from the prestigious Vineyard and Donnington Valley hotels had an inspiring day visiting the disability charity Enham Trust last month.

Thirty four senior managers were invited to the Trust, which is based south of Highclere, as part of the company’s social responsibility programme.

They volunteered to do some redecorating, and spruced up interior corridors at the Trust’s residential care homes.

They also had a chance to meet Enham’s disabled residents at a BBQ and were bowled over by the positive vibe and the high levels of independence amongst the residents, who live with a number of different physical and learning disabilities.

“Everyone was impressed with the work being done at Enham,” said Emma Jenkins, The Vineyard’s HR Director. “We learned so much and want to be involved with the charity in the future.  Our next project there may be joining forces with their gardening activities.”

“Most people are not born with a disability. It could be any one of us who has an accident or an illness which leaves us unable to manage. Enham Trust is there to help disabled people manage every aspect of their lives,” said Vicky Hamlen, The Trust’s Corporate Fundraiser. “Support from companies like The Vineyard Group is so important, and we really value their time and interest.”

Many of the charity’s clients, whose ages span 18 to 90, come from West Berkshire. The Trust offers a wide range of living, care, employment and community support to give disabled people choice in how they live their lives, and the ability to achieve high levels of independence.

Cathy Alexander
Enham Trust

Restaurant Host – Pino Marletta

How long have you worked at The Vineyard?
I started at The Vineyard over 13 years ago in March 2000.

What is the nicest thing a guest has said to you?
Some guests have mentioned that the reason for them coming to dine is to see me. Someone has said that I had made their night. When I’m away on holiday lots of people ask for me and say how much they missed me not being here. So overall it is lovely to have the recognition.

Who would you most like to enjoy an Afternoon Tea or dinner with?
It would of course be my wife. Due to working most evenings and weekend, the time we spend together is very precious.

Do you have a favourite wine to enjoy on a summer evening?
If I was eating I’d like a fully bodied red wine to match. However, before dinner I really enjoy a nice cold Martini.

What was it that attracted you to The Vineyard?
Previously we were living in London, and we decided we wanted to move to the countryside and have a better life for my family. The Vineyard owns some wonderful artwork and I have a passion for art. I also enjoy good food and wine so I really related to The Vineyard.

What is it that makes you stay?
The guests make me stay; here I am recognised.

If you could work anywhere in the world where would that be?
It would definitely be in my home town in Sicily.

What do you find are the main differences between your country and the UK?
Life is more relaxed in Italy and I feel there’s much more importance placed on family and enjoy long leisurely lunches with great food and wine.

What’s your favourite thing about the UK?
British people are so punctual and when they make a promise they keep it.

What do you like most about your job?
It would have to be the people. I work with a wonderful team and I get to meet interesting people everyday. Plus, it’s great to be a part of peoples’ Vineyard experience.

Join us for Afternoon Tea at The Vineyard from £22.50 per person.

T: 01635 528770

Ten out of Ten Trainee Management Programme

Long ago, well actually in 2011, ten of the UK’s premier properties got together to set up a training programme with a difference. Offering development through application, the trainee management programme provides successful candidates with an opportunity that is not to be missed.

With a commitment of 25 months, the programme offers each applicant access to five of these properties, spending five months working in a specific department in each property. This is an unrivalled opportunity for hospitality managers of the future, allowing a broad range of experience to be had in a relatively short space of time.

Candidates should be aged 19 or over and have either completed a qualification in hospitality management or have approximately one year’s experience in a reputable property.

Now in its second year the programme is finalising the successful applicants for the third intake of hospitality’s future stars.

The annual recruitment day:

This year the recruitment day took place at Penny hill park at the start of July.

Representatives of the 10 properties (Chewton Glen, Cliveden, Coworth Park, The Hinds Head, Lucknam Park, Mallory Court, Penny Hill Park, South Lodge, The Seafood Restaurant and The Vineyard) gathered together to put this year’s applicants through their paces.

From spaghetti and marshmallows, blind folds and cheese sandwiches to presentations, quizzes and interviews, the applicants had a full programme and a variety of tasks to showcase their talents, skills and abilities.

Candidates from year one and two were present to offer their support, and gave a great dose of realism in their presentations as they talked about their experiences on the programme and the opportunities that they had the pleasure of being involved in.

All in all it was an action packed, and very successful day.

The successful candidates will be announced shortly and will start their journey on 3rd September 2013. We look forward to welcoming them to our teams.

To apply to join next year’s programme take a look at the ten out of ten website.

The Judgement of Paris Blind Wine Tasting Event

The Judgement of Paris Blind Wine Tasting Event

Friday 24th May 2013 – 7.30pm onwards

Only a week to go before our second flagship event of the year, celebrating an infamous moment in history – The Judgement of Paris.

In the original blind tasting held in Paris in 1976, Californian wines were chosen over France’s very best by some of the leading wine aficionados of the day. But who knows what will happen this year? Only you can decide!

Get involved in this fun and interactive evening and enjoy:

  • welcome glasses of champagne and sparkling wine
  • the tasting of four wines (two whites and two reds, one French & one Californian in each category)
  • cheese, charcuterie and something sweet.

The result of the blind tasting will be announced at the end of the evening.

£30 per person
£25 per person when booking 4 or more tickets

Discover more –

2012 Judgement of Paris Tasting results

Guests were given the opportunity last year to taste two white wines and two red and vote for their favourites. We couldn’t have asked for a more diplomatic result – the French white and the Californian red won the night!

Winning wines

  • Bourgogne, Chardonnay, Vincent Girardin, Burgundy, France, 2010
  • Waterstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, 2007

To book your place at this year’s Judgement of Paris, please call us on 01635 528770.

Wine Terms: Sulfur


Sulfur has been used in wine making since Roman times. Yet, today its role in wine growing and making is often misunderstood.   Small amounts of sulfur are, in fact, essential for vine nutrition and for the stability of finished wines.

In the vineyard, sulfur is used to control molds and fungi, such as powdery mildew.  For this purpose sulfur compounds sprayed on the vines periodically.   As a vine nutrient, soils are rarely sulfur deficient so it is not routinely added as a nutrient.

In the winery, sulfur is used for its antimicrobial properties and as wine preservative that naturally protects the wine from oxidation.  The small amounts of sulfur compounds present in finished wines have no effect on the wine drinking experience except in the rare case of the drinker being truly allergic.  In point of fact, modern winemakers use far less sulfur than was common even a couple of decades ago.

Discover more about our Wine & Restaurant Director, Alan Holmes

Tell us a bit about you

Ever since an early age, I have been interested in the catering industry. Initially it was being a chef in the kitchen that enticed me, however it was during my time at college that I fell in love with the service side and developed a particular passion for wine. Having grown up in the North of England, wine was not a regular drink of choice, so when I was suddenly introduced to all things vinous I was immediately captivated!

From college to UK Sommelier of the Year

During my early days at Lancaster and Morecambe College, I was lucky enough to go on numerous wine tastings and a college exchange trip to Perpignan, before competing in regional food and wine service competitions. It was through winning one of these, that I was offered my first experience of Relais and Chateaux with a scholarship at Hambleton Hall and a subsequent position at Sharrow Bay. Here I had the fortuitous chance to work with Stephen Wilcock MS who really set me on the path to becoming a professional sommelier.

After 2 great years I moved back to my roots in Lancashire to work for Paul Heathcote at his eponymous 2 Michelin starred Longridge Restaurant, as this was the perfect opportunity to develop not only my wine skills, but also my managerial experience as I progressed from Assistant Sommelier to Restaurant Manager in 4 years. During my time here I was successful in winning the UK Sommelier of the Year in 1999 and being awarded an Acorn award from The Caterer and Hotelkeeper.

Tasting the world’s most amazing wines

In 2001 I was approached by Marcus Wareing to take over as Head sommelier at Petrus in St James St, London before moving it to The Berkeley Hotel where it is now known as Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley Hotel. This fantastic position gave me an opportunity to buy, serve and taste some of the world’s most amazing wines and vintages.

Chewton Glen, the South African Sommelier World Cup and more

By 2004 it was time to move into a more managerial role and Chewton Glen beckoned. This famous hotel has a long tradition of wine excellence with Gerard Basset being one of its best known previous sommeliers. Eight happy years were spent developing my management style, while still maintaining my contact with wines. Other awards and accolades followed when I was selected to represent the UK in the European Sommelier of the Year competition 2008 and the Wines of South Africa Sommelier World Cup 2010.

And now to The Vineyard…

After 8 years a move was again on the cards, and after a brief phone call and rapid interview process I was tempted to join The Vineyard, a hotel that I have long admired and visited in the past. Its amazing wine list of 3,000 wines was just too huge a temptation to resist and so the story continues….

Fishing, cycling, cooking and of course wine!

In my spare time I enjoy life in the great outdoors, be it walking with my partner, gardening, fishing, cycling or just spending time in the kitchen cooking whenever I can. However with wine, travel is always likely at some point and recent visits to Canada and California have proven highly educational.